CANNABIS CULTURE –   “I’m so blessed to be launched however there are nonetheless lots (of hashish prisoners) which might be nonetheless there,” says Andy Cox — now reunited along with his mom, two kids, and prolonged household in Florida after 13 years in federal lock-up.

In 2004, Cox started rising hashish crops within the Chattahoochee Nationwide Forest of Georgia the place his father owned land. After complaints from neighbors, Nationwide Forest Service brokers adopted ATV tracks to the property the place Cox had his operation. “It wasn’t actually concerning the cash,” Cox mentioned. To him, rising was extra about being a connoisseur. 

Cox was indicted in 2005 for conspiracy to fabricate marijuana.

To keep away from jail time, Cox lived as a fugitive for 3 years persevering with to work within the hashish black market. Cox mentioned it was not straightforward. The sacrifices had been enormous, “I needed to give my kids.”

He was captured in 2008. Since this was his third strike, Cox was sentenced to a life sentence with out parole, regardless of having no historical past of violence. “I’d’ve by no means grown marijuana if I knew I’d get a life sentence. It’s simply unbelievable,” mentioned the previous Firefighter.

On December 21, 2020, The Goodwin Legislation agency, partnered with Final Prisoner Challenge (LPP) filed for Cox’s launch, citing the First Step Act, a bipartisan legal justice invoice handed to scale back prolonged necessary minimal sentences for repeat drug offenders.  

Goodwin acknowledged that Cox, now 57, ought to be launched since his life sentence was issued underneath an outdated system of rules for an act (cultivating hashish) that’s authorized in lots of states. His age and preexisting circumstances additionally put him susceptible to dying from COVID-19 in jail. 

On January 5, 2021, a decide ordered Cox’s instant launch.

“I believe each case is completely different…in a case the place you could have a life sentence for a nonviolent offense that clearly resonated with the federal government and the decide,” mentioned Brett Schuman, Hashish observe Co-chair at Goodwin Legislation Agency. Regardless of the quick turnaround time, Schuman doesn’t imagine that “that is the winds of change” for hashish offenses or nonviolent life sentences. 

Schuman went on to say the hashish trade within the US alone is a $60 Billion a yr trade. “I do really feel that there’s a ethical obligation on the a part of, if not all of society, a minimum of these of us which might be working on this trade and benefiting from it to assist individuals like Andy.”

“There’s a large false impression that individuals suppose as legalization turns into extra widespread we’re simply routinely letting these nonetheless incarcerated for hashish offenses out. Clearly, that isn’t true,” Government Director and Common Counsel of LPP Sarah Gersten mentioned. At present, LPP has “5 – 6” lively instances within the pipeline with Goodwin. LPP heard about Cox’s case from collaborating teams Freedom Develop and Life4Pot.